The Battlements of Northern Commerce

Tyler Muzzin

About the Artist

My recent work responds to ideas of ecological citizenship in the public imaginary, with a focus on relationships between humans and non-humans and occidental constructions of nature and culture.

About the Works

This series uses manipulated images of billboards in North-Central Ontario to reconsider highway infrastructure as something both public and private--something that crosses through ecosystems and bypasses animal habitat. The focus on the object of the advertisement is replaced with a hypothetical reflection that mimics the experience of driving a vehicle and the limitations of human vision, as well as the metaphor of "hindsight." Every advertisement on the side of the road, which is itself a cultural construction, disrupts the view of the landscape, a second cultural construction; and the transposed reflection fulfills the impossible yearning to concurrently see what's ahead and what's behind. I believe this visual trope complicates the pervading understanding of highways as simply the most efficient on-land route from point A to point B. It suggests that the highway itself is a complex socio-political and biologically-significant environment, not just a network of surface architecture in the peripheries of cities.

As structures, these signs recall abandoned battlements and fortifications that may have been constructed with a sense of urgency. Over time, many of the signs have fallen into disrepair. The space they occupy along the highway is contentious--municipally-maintained, publicly-travelled, privately-advertised, colonially-acquired land. As advertisements, the signs suggest an embedding of commerce and consumerism into the land itself. The entire series contains 24 images.

Toronto Metropolitan Department of  Architectural Science Toronto, CA.
Ryerson Department of  Architectural Science Toronto, CA.